Dan Popp
The six evenings and mornings of Creation
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Dan Popp
May 8, 2017

...on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. – Deuteronomy 19:15b, NAS95

There are so many Bible expositors and scholars now teaching that the six days of Creation are not literal days that I'd like to present the evidence to the contrary. Well-intentioned as these folks may be, I believe they've started on the wrong end of the problem. Trying to squeeze the Word of God into our current state of ignorance (often mischaracterized as "science") is a practice that's been putting egg on learned faces for a very long time.

The smarties inform us that the Hebrew word yom in Genesis, Chapter 1 is ambiguous. It could mean a literal day, or it could mean a period of time, such as "the Day of the Lord." But you and I navigate thousands of ambiguous words daily without much trouble. If I say that I'm getting on a plane tomorrow morning, you don't wonder whether I'm talking about a geometric concept defined by three points, or plane tree, or one of those devices that shaves wood; nor are you bothered by another half-dozen meanings of the homophone "plain," and scratch your head as to why I'm going on about homeliness or lack of ornamentation. No, we solve the ambiguity – so easily that we're not even aware we're doing it – by using the context.

The ambiguous word yom doesn't appear in Genesis 1 surrounded by a blank page. The old-earthers are pretending that the Scripture reads: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was ... one day."

Although "day" is ambiguous, "evening" and "morning" are not. The Hebrew word for evening is always translated "evening," "twilight," or "sunset." The word for morning is always rendered "morning," "dawn," or "daybreak." I saw a very smart person say in an internet video that "evening" and "morning" in the text denote a "definite period of time." Never mind that that contradicts the translators, if true, what is the period being defined? How many hundreds of millions of years are specified? The obvious fact is that the period of time defined by each evening and morning is "one day!"

We have scriptural precedent for using the phrase "evenings and mornings" precisely to disabuse the reader of any notion of a symbolic day. The prophet Daniel is known for his 70 "weeks," which are groups of seven years. He's a very metaphorical guy. But in Chapter 8 of his book we read,
    Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?" He said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored." (Daniel 8:13, 14) (It's used again in verse 26.)
There's no doubt in most minds that the 2,300 evenings and mornings are meant to be literal days – and it is the phrase "evenings and mornings" that removes any doubt, in the midst of a book brimming with metaphorical days.

These two terms support and explain each other. If someone claims that "day" is vague, he has "evening and morning" to clear things up. If another says that "evening and morning" is a metaphor, he has "day" to correct him. It doesn't pass the laugh test to say that God wrote, "evening and morning – one day" and golly, we just can't tell what He means by that.

The impulse to read long eons of time into Genesis 1 does not come from the Bible. It comes, I'm pretty sure, from the desire to make the Bible cool and relevant and plausible to an anti-biblical, anti-scientific audience. This approach never works.

And I mean that literally.

© Dan Popp

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)